Omar

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OMAR

“Currently, I live in a bad situation,” Omar began his first email from Afghanistan to No One Left Behind’s Seattle Chapter in November 2017. That was an understatement.

For four years, Omar (not his real name) had risked his life working for the U.S. Army as an interpreter in dangerous regions of Afghanistan. On frequent patrols with Army infantry units, he braved insurgent attacks, and once had his arm broken when a roadside bomb detonated nearby.

At the time he emailed No One Left Behind, the Afghan interpreter was living virtually in hiding in his own country, desperate to keep himself, his wife, and his toddler daughter safe. Six months earlier, Omar’s brother, an Afghan soldier, had been killed by Taliban insurgents.

Omar’s work for U.S. forces put him at grave risk for retaliation by Taliban insurgents. The threat was so great that he could no longer return to his home province, where both he and his wife grew up. Whenever his wife wanted to visit her family there, her father and brother would travel to pick her up as it was too perilous for Omar to accompany her.

“Since I got my job with the U.S. Army, I couldn’t go to my hometown,” Omar said.

He had applied for and received a U.S. Special Immigrant Visa (SIV), but had been waiting for months – as is often the case – for his air tickets. Increasingly worried about the safety of his family, Omar reached out to a fellow Afghan interpreter who had been assisted by No One Left Behind in Seattle.

No One Left Behind, a non-profit that supports the resettlement of SIV holders in the United States, had recently established ties with Miles4Migrants, a charity that uses donated frequent flyer program miles to provide tickets for refugees facing danger or hardship. Miles4Migrants took an immediate interest in Omar’s case, and thanks to the generosity of their donors, enough miles were quickly contributed to purchase tickets for all three members of Omar’s family from Kabul to Seattle.

After a whirlwind departure, the family of three arrived in Seattle in December 2017, where No One Left Behind met them at the airport and helped them settle in the same apartment complex as Omar’s Afghan friend. No One Left Behind delivered a truck full of household goods including beds, furniture, and kitchen supplies for Omar’s first home. No One Left Behind also introduced Omar to an early job opportunity, allowing him to earn enough money to buy his first car.

Today, Omar has already found a steady job as a maintenance person for a company in Seattle. He and his wife and daughter are enjoying the freedom and safety of life in their new country. Omar now lives safely in Seattle.